By Deb Mastrianna
For anyone who suffers from overwork, overindulgence, nervousness, chronic fatigue, low libido or restlessness, the medicinal herb, ashwagandha, may be a good choice for you, as a general herbal tonic.
Ashwagandha, also known as “Winter Cherry” has been used in traditional Indian and African medicine for centuries. The plant contains chemicals that work as a restorative element, to help combat the effects of daily stress and to strengthen the immune system after an illness.
Ashwagandha is a unique herb with anti-stress adaptogenic action that helps us cope with the stress of everyday life. It promotes the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis, resist stress and stimulate the immune system. Ashwagandha prevents or minimizes imbalances from; poor diet, lack of sleep, mental or physical strain, or chemical toxins in the environment, which can lead to disease. It is especially beneficial in stress related disorders such as hypertension, high blood pressure and insomnia.
The literal meaning of the name, ashwagandha, is from the Sanskrit language. It is a combination of the word ashva, meaning horse, and gandha, meaning smell or sweat. The symbolic meaning indicates that the herb possesses the virile spirit and power a horse. It is often referred to as “Indian ginseng” even though, botanically, ginseng and ashwagandha are unrelated.
Although the ashwagandha plant is cultivated in many of the drier regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East it is now being cultivated in milder climates, like the United States, as well. It is a short shrub with leaves that are covered with a dense matte of wooly hairs, small green flowers and orange-red fruit (the size of a raisin) with coagulating properties. The tuberous roots are more common in Western herbal remedies, but the leaves and flowers also possess beneficial therapeutic applications. Ashwagandha contains many useful medicinal chemicals, including withanolides, (steroidal lactones), alkaloids, choline, fatty acids, amino acids, and a variety of sugars.
The rejuvenating properties of ashwagandha help nourish tissues, particularly muscle and bone, while supporting the proper function of the adrenal glands and the reproductive system. It has been used as mild muscle relaxer and as an anti-inflammatory for a variety of ailments including arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, backache, fibromyalgia and menstrual discomfort.
Ashwagandha has been used to balance, strengthen, and calm the nervous system. Researchers at the University of Texas found that the extract of ashwagandha performed in a similar manner to GABA. Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system and plays a role in regulating neuronal excitability. In humans, GABA is also directly responsible for the regulation of muscle tone. This might explain why ashwagandha is so effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It has been used as an herbal treatment for mental ailments, convulsions, seizures, panic attacks, mood fluctuations, lowered mental power, mental retardation, phobias, schizophrenia, psychosis, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, insomnia and alcohol paranoia.
Not surprisingly, ashwagandha is a wonderful aphrodisiac. Since prehistoric times, it is believed that Ashwagandha has the ability to enhance sexual activity. It is mentioned in the kama sutra and is a common herb used in ayurvedic medicine for impotency. Ashwagandha strengthens both male and female reproductive systems, increases lactation, increases sperm count and helps with infertility while increasing libido.
However, the most common cause of functional male impotency is often accompanied by a low sperm count and low sperm mobility. Male impotency can be physiological, psychological, or both. Ashwagandha has been found to effectively reduce oxidative stress and is traditionally used as a sexual tonic for men for this reason. Ashwagandha is a powerful aphrodisiac that helps in enhance sexual powers and physical endurance and promotes fertility.
The applications for overall wellbeing that can be managed with ashwagandha are endless. It is a tonic for overall good health and stamina. To slow the debilitations of aging, as a mild sedative and muscle relaxer, as an antioxidant, to improve respiratory, memory and brain function to strengthen the nerve tissue and to promote restful sleep and an overall sense of wellbeing, ashwagandha may be just what you have been looking for.
Contraindications: Do not use Ashwagandha Herbal Extract if you are taking anxiety or anti-seizure medication. This herb may potentiate the sedative effect of barbiturates. You may feel as if you want to sleep more if you take this herb and pentobarbital (medicine used to help you sleep). Pregnant women should avoid this herb and if you are breastfeeding consult your doctor before taking. Do not take Ashwagandha if you have leukemia and are being treated with chemotherapy. Symptoms of allergic reactions are: feeling cold (decrease in body temperature) or upset stomach.
Disclaimer: The information presented herein by New Way Herbs is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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